26 September 2011

Eats: Chicago-style deep-dish pizza

When I was in elementary school, it seemed that everyone’s favorite food was pizza. You know, we’d have those little “about me” surveys, or we’d have to draw our favorite food, and everyone picked PIZZA. Myself included. I always sort of hated how unoriginal I felt, but really, people. Could you blame me? Pizza is just delicious.

Which is why in this blog’s short lifetime, we now have TWO pizza recipes. Because pizza is versatile and delicious and worthy of being a favorite food!

Versatility in point: Here’s the first recipe I featured, an tasty and relatively easy standard crust recipe. Today, though, it’s deep dish pizza. I had authentic Chicago-style deep dish pizza for the first time a few holiday seasons ago, when we visited Mr. P’s sister in the Chicago area. We went to Lou Malnati’s, which is famous and perhaps a bit touristy, but justifiably so. There I discovered that “deep dish” pizza is not just a thick crust, as the big pizza chains would have you believe. Oh no. It is an actual pie of pizza, in a pie pan no less. And the sauce was tangy and the cheese so delicious and I fell in love.

So in love that I had Lou Malnati’s pizza thrice the next time I went to Chicago. But I already told you about that.

Since Chicago is unfortunately a long drive from Nashville, I decided to try a recipe that claimed to rival Lou Malnati’s. And oh, the recipe is long. So so long. Longer than the recipes I usually attempt.

But! Lou Malnati’s without the 500-mile trip? Worth a try!

For my first attempt I mostly just followed the crust recipe, but there is a sauce recipe at the source as well. I don’t cover that here. Just the dough, which you start by adding in the dry ingredients: flour, cornmeal, salt, sugar and yeast.

Stir those together (with a spoon, you don’t have to mix it), then add in the water:

Note that I didn’t let the yeast sit with warm water to “wake it up”. The recipe didn’t call for it, and it didn’t seem to be necessary.

Next is the butter, which I melted in a separate bowl, because of the butter fire in the microwave incident.

After adding in the butter and kneading for about five minutes, the dough looked awfully promising:

Then I molded it into a ball, rubbed it with a bit of olive oil, wrapped it up with saran wrap, and walked away. For an hour. An hour! Waiting for pizza is my least favorite part of making pizza dough.

After letting it rise or expand or become more pizza-y somehow for one hour, it was time to laminate the dough Which sounds fancy, and seems fancy, but is actually super easy. And the result is delicious! I think I will laminate all my doughs from now on, just because.

Here’s how you laminate dough! I just followed the directions on the source, which are excellent. First, roll the dough-ball out into a rectangle:

Then spread two tablespoons of softened butter over it. Which, now that I think about it, is probably why laminated dough is so delicious. Hmm.

Then roll up the dough, from the short side, into a cylinder:

And flatten out the cylinder into a long, skinny rectangle:

Then fold that rectangle over into thirds:

And pinch up the ends and sides:

That’s it! That’s how you laminate dough! It takes like five minutes!

You know what doesn’t take just five minutes? Waiting another hour for the dough to rise agaaaaaain.

Whew, okay. After the second rise, it’s time to make a pizza! Roll out the dough into a circle:

You may notice that little patches of laminated dough are missing. I don’t know how to keep it from sticking to the rolling pin without adding a lot more flour, unfortunately, but it wasn’t too bad.

Then the dough gets transferred to a greased 9” pie pan. NINE INCHES. You hear me? NINE. I thought I’d be cute and use my springform pan, which is ten inches, and there is decidedly not enough dough for a ten-inch pie pan. My math-teacher husband actually calculated the percentage of dough I was missing by trying to use a ten-inch pan for nine inches worth of dough, but suffice to say it was a large percentage. Use the nine-inch pan!

When you suck it up and use the nine-inch pan instead, it will look like this:

Now the best part. The Redheaded Stepchild’s guide to covering things with cheese! In this case I used slices of “fresh” (not fresh) mozzarella from the specialty cheese section of our grocery.

Note that Lou Malnati’s pizza has cheese on the bottom, NOT sauce, so that’s how I did it too. I don’t know why. I don’t question greatness.

Because I didn’t use the sauce recipe from the website, I used my own sauce that I had on hand instead. Then I topped it with pepperonis, because we had them on hand:

Then I baked it for about 25 minutes at 425 degrees F. It was excruciating waiting for it to bake. But once it was done:

Oh good grief, that is just amazing. The dough was fantastic. Buttery and chewy and fluffy and crispy. Laminating really does make all the difference.

But you know what wasn’t amazing? The sauce! I screwed up by not using the sauce recipe at the source. My sauce was the same recipe I’ve cited a few times, and in this case, it was too smooth, too sweet for Chicago-style pizza. The sauce at Lou Malnati’s is chunkier and tangy-er, and I thought that wouldn't matter, but I was wrong.

But that means I’ll just have to make this again! You know, the next time I have four hours to make a pizza, which is not really anytime soon. But Lou Malnati’s in Chicago is eight hours away, so in theory it's Lou Malnati's pizza in half the time! I'll take it.


Tina said...

As soon as I have another leg to stand on, I am going to make this - laminating the dough and all. I can hardly wait...

Nathan Estlund said...

Here is the real deal for Malnatis